So, that got me to wondering about Bob McDonnells' commitment to k-12 education in the Commonwealth. I know Creigh Deeds is a strong supporter of children and public education - I have had the privilege of occasionally working on education issues with him since he served in the House of Delegates. But, what about Bob McDonnell? In these tough economic times, it is important to know where the men stand and how much of a priority education is while writing a budget.
In his infamous 1989 thesis McDonnell wrote that public schools should only provide a "minimum level of self-sufficiency." He also implied that increased school funding was linked to failing SAT scores. What the cluck? He thinks minimum self-sufficiency is good enough for Virginia's kids? If Bob McDonnell and his friends had been steering the ship of state, Virginia would never have been named the best place for a child to be born and grow up. We'd probably never have been named the best place to do business either... a quality and well educated (not minimum education/skills) is essential to attracting new business and keeping our existing ones.
Bob McDonnell has dishonestly making himself appear to be a moderate much like Mark Warner. But, when it comes to funding public eduction, Bob McDonnell has never delivered. For example, McDonnell opposed Warner's budget amendment that committed an additional $1.5 billion to education, the largest increase in Virginia history. To paraphrase a famous gentleman from Texas, I know Mark Warner, Bob McDonnell is no Mark Warner... not when is comes to a commitment to K-12 education. Or, in any other way!
Bob McDonnell's "plan" for fixing Virginia's transportation problems is to borrow (get out the credit card) and to take $5.4 billion out of the General Fund. Now all that sounds painless, right? Well, economists understand (even if McDonnell doesn't) that everything has a cost, known as opportunity cost. Since the General Fund pays for K-12 and higher education, for public safety, for parks, and most other core services, if McDonnell robs Peter to pay Paul the cost will be borne by local schools, by Sheriff's Departments, and by local government. What? The McDonnell plan will mean fewer teachers, fewer deputies on patrol, and may force my county to raise taxes? Yep... it is dishonest budgeting that I'd call shift and shaft. No wonder a number of fiscally responsible Republican leaders who understand the state budget are supporting Creigh Deeds, his sound transportation plan, and his career-long commitment to education.
We can at least say Bob McDonnell is consistent. Consistently bad for public education.